Rabbic Student on Hebron Tour

Excerpts from the blog: Velveteen Rabbi

Early on Thursday morning, eleven strangers gathered at the New Gate to the Old City and piled into a van heading for the West Bank. Before the checkpoint, we were advised to hide anything visibly Jewish, lest the soldiers decide to pull us out of the van and ask us questions. (I believe three of us in the group were Jewish; one wears kippah and tzitzit as a matter of course, but he hid them for the duration.) We met our guide Samer at his home in Beit Sahour, a town adjacent to Bethlehem. (Read his bio here if you're interested)

We climbed into our second van of the day -- this one labeled "First Baptist Church," which I thought was pretty funny -- and as we drove, Samer warned us not to photograph veiled women (because it is rude), and also not to photograph Israeli soldiers (because it is dangerous.) The countryside through which we traveled was made up of striated hills of limestone, with small orchards and olive groves and buildings dotting the landscape. I saw an old man in a keffiyeh riding a donkey, sitting regally as he bounced down the road.

. . . . . . . . . We saw the tombs of Abraham and Sarah (well, the monuments above them; the tombs themselves are underground.) I should mention here that Jews are technically not allowed into the mosque, nor non-Jews into the adjacent synagogue. I don't know how long that's been the policy, but it's certainly been true since a settler named Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslims at prayer one Purim in what is now called the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre.
Cue the first serious cognitive dissonance of my day. Thinking of Reb Zalman davening zhikr with Sufis there in Hebron gave me such joy. Thinking of Baruch Goldstein killing people at prayer in the same room where I was reverently walking made my stomach twist with sorrow and anger. Feeling these two things at the same time -- well, facing that tension is part of why I wanted to visit the West Bank, but wow, this never gets easy, does it?
The full post can be read at the Velveteen Rabbi


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